A Very Durham Halloween

By and

Burandanga in full swing

Jam Jah: Day of the Dead Special 

It’s one of the warmest Halloweens on record. As I step into the Jah I know it’s about to get hotter.Welcome to Jam Jah, the monthly jazz/soul/funk/reggae night at Alington House, North Bailey. Helping us celebrate La Dia de Muertos in style are live (or should I say dead?) act Latin American group Burandanga. On my walk to the venue I ask my Mexican friend about the meaning of the Dias de Muertos tradition. Apparently it’s a joyful remembrance which recognises death as a natural part of life.

When we arrive, Burandanga are just setting up. They’re an aptly joyful and eclectic band, mixing sounds from a range of contemporary Latin styles and traditions. The hot back up vocalist/ tambourine guy delivers a dynamic, passionate performance. His almost terrifyingly thuggish skinhead look only adds to his appeal. He complements the cool and collected lead singer very well. On their Facebook page under the band’s ‘interests’ the description reads: ‘The pursuit of rhythms, roots, and the love of life!!!’ All this certainly comes across. Burandanga kept me on the dance floor all night- apart from when I went to the Jah’s ever cheap-and-cheerful bar to buy a £1.50 cup of sangria.

dia de muertosJam Jah attracts a mixed crowd from student and local community alike. There’s a distinct lack of ageism with twenty-somethings dancing alongside fifty-somethings. This is the day of the dead: everyone’s face is painted as a skull. Suddenly age seems irrelevant. We’re all just grooving skeletons. As ever Jam Jah has a chilled, laid-back atmosphere and I can’t wait to go again.

The Halloween table
The Halloween table

Hild Bede Halloween Formal

Let’s be honest, Hild Bede’s Caedmon Hall is not the most beautiful location for a formal when compared to, let’s say, Castle’s Great Hall. However, as a Hild Bede finalist I’m used to its less than spectacular aesthetic and walking in to the room I was eager to experience the college’s newly introduced Halloween formal.

The tables were decorated with pumpkins which students had made as part of a carving competition and so results were varied but added a home-made charm nonetheless. Bowls of sweets were also provided which I was very excited by until I realised that being a stupid vegetarian meant I couldn’t eat marshmallows.

As the night progressed things improved as a friend was delighted to see that our starter was a red pepper soup instead of the more traditional pumpkin variety which he was dreading because apparently it smells (?) This characterised the evening as from there on in the Halloween theme wasn’t overdone and the formal carried on in usual form with the wine disappearing before the starter was over.

After the meal we went to the bar and some were disappointed while others were relieved that the playlist of the Time Warp and Monster Mash had been passed over in favour of chart hits. By the end of the night, even though the scary theme was somewhat absent from the formal, I felt suitably prepared for Halloween the following night and had had a lovely time – even if I didn’t get to perform the Thriller moves I had practiced.


Photographs: Kate Wilkinson, Matt Baker, and Jam Jah

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